Bryan Cooper: I schooled at Colin’s for the first time on Thursday morning
I schooled at Colin’s for the first time on Thursday morning, and I must have sat on about 12 horses. Finian’s Oscar was one of those and he jumped six fences in good style. He is a graduate from Irish point-to-points, so he would have had plenty of experience there. He obviously developed into a top-class novice hurdler last season, winning at Aintree and just being denied at Punchestown, and he has the size and class to shine in this sphere, too. This isn’t an easy task though, as all three of the opposition are promising horses in their own right and Alcala is already rated 152 after his winning exploits in the summer.
He had a big reputation last season after coming over from France with some high-class chasing form to his name but things didn’t work out for him. Sometimes it takes a while for horses to adapt as the French style of racing is very different to ours. But he seems in good form at home and I think this handicap hurdle over this trip off a mark of 146 is a good starting point for him; we know he has the class to be competitive off that rating and hopefully a good run here will do his confidence the world of good.
He obviously progressed really well towards the end of last season and he officially improved 21lb to a mark of 160 after winning at Aintree and Punchestown. If he wins off this mark here then he enters the Gold Cup picture, and trip and ground look fine for him. It isn’t an easy task off top weight, obviously, but he seemed in good order on Thursday.
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